Sunday, September 19, 2010
Breakfast in Cambodia: Khmer noodles
One of my favorite traditional breakfasts in Cambodia is nom banh chok, or Khmer noodles. A heaping bowl of noodles, gravy and vegetables served with a few chilis on the side. Like most food in Cambodia, it's served at room temperature, and often in a plastic bag.
There are usually two kinds of gravy, one that is made with fish sauce, lemongrass, garlic, salt, sugar and fish of some sort. My cultural ambassador (read: my co-worker) started to get flustered when I was grilling her around this so what I am telling you may be completely incorrect. The other gravy choice is called green curry, so I'm going to assume it's probably a green curry.
The noodles are made from rice--Eating Asia has a really interesting post on how they make the noodles for nom banh chok. Cambodians are serious about their nom bahn chok noodles. I have been told several times that Khmers invented these noodles and that many other countries have stolen the idea. I've met a few noodle makers and it's not particularly lucrative and very physically demanding. I don't envy them the job, but I'm eternally grateful that they do it.
The dish is served with shredded cucumber, banana flowers, water lily stem, long beans, lime wedges and a pile of vegetable leaves that I cannot identify.
Living in Asia has given me a new freedom with breakfast. Cereal, phhhht. I'd rather eat nom banh chok.